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Rock-Solid Rest:
Rejuvenating Your Mind and Body

In these industrious times that we live in, proper rest is usually the first thing to go. We very often don’t get enough quality sleep at night and the ageless tradition of the mid-day siesta (or “power nap”) is simply not practical for most people. Granted, as we adhere to a first-rate nutrition and exercise program, we usually find that we require less sleep. But that doesn’t nullify our body’s need for a particular amount, especially if we’re engaged in any kind of rigorous training regimen like weightlifting.

As we rest, the body has a chance to repair and replenish itself, while the mind gets a well-needed break from the daily turbulence that it shoulders. We think more clearly and our bodies function at a higher level when we’re well rested. And as logical as all of this seems, most people are unaware of how to sleep properly

A Crash Course on Sleeping

Just as we’ve discussed optimal ways to breathe and eat, there are optimal ways to approach getting a good night’s rest. You will definitely want to try some of these ideas, because waking up fried and trying to get through the day on eight cylinders is tough to do when you’re not properly rejuvenated. Here are a few concepts to consider.

Darkness: Darkness is one of our brain’s main signals to produce the sleep hormone, melatonin. Being exposed to any kind of light during our sleeping cycle can disrupt this signal and affect the quality of our sleep. With this in mind, consider the following:

Avoid falling asleep with any kind of light on, including the TV.
If you have to get up in the middle of the night to go to the restroom, try to do so with minimal lighting so as not to disrupt the cycle.
Arrange for ultra-dark curtains or shades if you routinely sleep during the morning hours or in the afternoon.
When possible, hang out in a low lighting situation an hour before you crash. This actually helps your body prepare for the sleep cycle. If this dim lighting arrangement conflicts with anyone else at home, considering wearing sunglasses indoors for this time period. (Sound whacked? Sure. But this recommendation comes directly from Dr. Andrew Weil, a guy who knows a thing or two about holistic health.)

Bottom line? Sleep in the dark as much as possible. You’ll feel the difference. A case in point for me is my LA office/practice room. There are no windows in the place, so all I have to do is hit the lights and it goes pitch black, even in the middle of the afternoon. Sometimes I’ll hang out and work there for days at a time, living off of power naps as needed, and I’ve noticed that I get really good quality sleep there, largely because it’s so dark. Generally speaking, fewer hours of this kind of quality sleep will serve you better than a typical “full night’s rest” where intrusive lighting or sunlight is involved.

Ritual: There are a few other things you can do in advance of bedtime each night to promote an optimal night’s sleep. If you approach any combination of these things as a sort of nightly ritual, you have an excellent chance of consistently getting great rest.

1. Aromatherapy: Whether you use incense, scented candles or oils, or even some of that aromatherapy linen spray on your sheets and pillow cases, relaxing aromas are a well-known sleeping aid.

2. Relaxing music: Listening to some light, relaxing music is an excellent way to unwind and decompress before going to sleep. Check out some of the old stand-bys in the classical realm, some light jazz or even some new age type of ambient music.

3. White noise: Whether it’s the hum of a fan or space heater, or the drone of a waterfall or ocean from your bedside sound-soother device, these kind of monotonous sounds can help you sleep more deeply. One reason is because they tend to mask other arbitrary sounds that might otherwise distract you. Another is because some folks are able to reach consistently deeper levels of sleep through these kind of steady soundscapes. However, I would not recommend sleeping to any kind of music, TV or radio, simply because some part of your subconscious will actively be evaluating, discerning, critiquing, etc., and this could affect the depth of your sleep.

4. Lighting: We just alluded to the idea of dim or ambient lighting in the darkness section. Think about all the array of options you have with candles, lava lamps, regular lamps, different colored bulbs, etc. Setting up a particular lighting scheme every night before bed will set the stage for a good night’s rest.

5. Brain-Diet: Although I know this can be a tough one to follow logistically speaking, try to refrain from watching any kind of local news, violent movies, or anything else particularly graphic or stimulating prior to bedtime. These images tend to create a tumultuous undercurrent in our heads (even if we’re not fully aware of it), making it more difficult to sink into those deeper, more restful states of sleep.

Routine: From the “do as I say, not as I do” department, do your best each day to try and maintain a predictable sleeping pattern. Your circadian rhythm, or “body clock,” thrives on regularity and essentially times the release of all sleep-related hormones every night. When these patterns are interrupted, this rhythm is thrown off and a variety of unfavorable chemical reactions can occur, including jacked-up cortisol levels. So try to adhere to a particular bedtime schedule. Even if you’re not especially tired, go to bed and read (or engage in some other kind of relaxing activity…use your imagination!). This gets your body and mind on a schedule and in a set pattern of what to expect.

There is no doubt that some days this Rock-Solid sleep concept just isn’t going to happen. And while your superior nutrition and physical conditioning will kick in to compensate to some degree, a quick, 30-minute to one-hour nap can make all the difference. When this can’t happen, so be it, but just try to prioritize this rest/sleep principle a little higher the next day.


Bobby Rock is a seasoned health and fitness specialist and a renowned drummer, educator, producer and author of seven books. With certifications in personal training, nutrition and meditation, and a number of published writings on the subject of health and wellness, Bobby's unique approach to total mind/body fitness has gained him accolades among a wide cross-section of health enthusiasts. Check out for more info.



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